DAC2 HGC - "Offered one of the highest resolutions I have measured"
"Note that I've had to extend the vertical scale to –160 dBFS to reveal the noise floor. The drop in the level of the noise floor with 24-bit data indicates that the DAC2 offers 21-bit resolution, which is state-of-the-art performance."
"With the very low level of noise and superb linearity, the DAC2's reproduction of an undithered 16-bit tone at exactly –90.31 dBFS was essentially perfect."
"Even driving a very demanding 600 ohm load, the DAC2 offered very low levels of analog distortion, with the third harmonic the highest in level, at –116 dB (0.00015%). Other than the second and fifth, all the other harmonics lie at close to –130 dB. Intermodulation distortion was also superbly low, again even into 600 ohms."
"Summing up the Benchmark DAC2 HGC's measured performance is easy: It's simply superb."
- John Atkinson, Stereophile
AHB2 - "Amazing clarity, but no over the top edginess"
"The Benchmark brings out nuances of reverb, quick percussive guitar attack with amazing clarity, but no over the top edginess..."
"The -130 dB noise/dynamic range just gets us that much closer to the live music signature that we yearn to hear from our beloved electronics."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
DAC2 HGC - "Inspired me to just listen to music for hours on end"
"To my surprise, all of those words that audiophiles & engineers use to describe sound (depth, detail, focus, realism, etc) were even better with the DAC2 when compared to the DAC1."
"Several years ago I bought a Benchmark DAC1 to replace the built in converters of my RME Multiface II interface. This was a revelation for me as the difference was more than just subtle."
"The DAC2 HGC inspired me to just listen to music for hours on end and get lost in sonic bliss - that is a testament to its quality."
- captainj, Gearslutz
DAC2 HGC - "This company is called Benchmark for a reason."
"The original DAC1 was aimed squarely at professionals, but was subsequently embraced by the audiophile market. It remains an excellent D-A converter, and its ability to completely isolate interface jitter sets it apart from most D-As, including some of the much more costly models. However, digital audio technology continues to make incremental improvements, and in the eight years since I reviewed the DAC1 the state of the art has clearly advanced."
"The DAC2 HGC is undoubtedly a major step forward in technical performance compared to its forebear and, although it costs almost double the price of a DAC1, it does also offer a lot of additional features and facilities."- Hugh Robjohns, Sound On Sound
DAC2 HGC - "The bottom line ... good for any mastering or recording project"
"With all the headphones I had available the DAC2 headphone amp rivaled the sonics of the stand-alone iFi iCan headphone amplifier ..."
"For me the bottom line on the Benchmark DAC2 HGC is that is it not only good enough to live with long-term, it’s good enough to use for any mastering or recording projects that might come up."
"The DAC2 HGC is easy to listen through, highly revealing, and with well-recorded material astonishingly three-dimensional."
- Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound
DAC2 HGC - "I would put the new Benchmark unit against any 2-channel D/A on the market"
"The original Benchmark DAC1 has been used to master many Grammy-winning and chart-topping records. It is hard to imagine that even better performance has been squeezed out of that box, but the DAC2 HGC does that."
"More than an updated faceplate on the original DAC1, the DAC2 HGC offers its own reference sound that will be welcome in the listening environments of both audio engineers and audiophiles."
"Personally, I would put the new Benchmark unit against any 2-channel D/A on the market."
- Garrett Haines, Tape Op
DAC2 HGC - "Far more refined than its price would suggest"
"The DAC2 HGC uses one of the best digital chipsets on the market today to produce a quality of sound that, until a few years ago, wasn't available for less than $10,000."
"It sounds far more refined than its price would suggest, and when you consider that it can serve as the keystone of a digital and analog system, on a desktop or in a listening room, it becomes all the more remarkable."
- Hans Wetzel, SoundStage! Access
DAC2 HGC - "Silky smooth sonic signature"
"Those who are used to the tight, bright and hard edge of the previous generation of DACs will be tickled by the DAC2 HGC’s silky smooth sonic signature."
"The DAC2‘s audio performance is stunning — in that it projects a smoother texture, with increased accuracy in the bass and mid-frequency soundstage. But the top-end is full of energy and detail. Usually, a DAC’s subjective improvements are subtle, but the DAC2 HGC’s audible improvements are obvious on first listen."
"Benchmark has ensured compatibility with DSD by adding the DoP-decoding capability. Through computer software player programs, such as Pure Music, JRiver and Audirvana, computers can relay the DSD-on-PCM signal to the DAC2 HGC."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network
ADC16 - "I am so impressed how real sounding these Benchmark converters are."
"Benchmark Media has designed reference quality professional and audiophile products for nearly 20 years. The reference quality ADC1 and DAC1 series of converters are some of the best digital converters on the market."
"I played a Gibson Custom Shop ’59 Les Paul, which has a fantastic warm humbucker tone. I have recorded this rig with other converters, but the Benchmark ADC16-recorded tunes played back through the DAC1 USB (or even my Apogee DAC) blew them all away. I have never heard my guitar rig sound this good..."
"If ever an audio product deserved the Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award, it is indeed the Benchmark ADC16."
- Jackson Macinnis, Everything Audio Network
ADC16 - "Numbers that we come to expect from this engineering-driven company"
"The noise floor is an impressive approximate -120 dBFS but the distortion takes quite a reduction of input level to get there – approaching 0.0001%!"
"All in all, the basic measurement parameters of the Benchmark ADC16 are in or near the top of A/D converter performance standards — numbers that we come to expect from this engineering-driven electronics company."
ADC16 - "The highest quality analogue to digital conversion"
"During the review period, the ADC16 performed flawlessly. Because the routing and settings are performed from the front panel, set-up was simple."
"I almost forgot that I had the ADC16 patched into my system over the review period – which is possibly the most flattering thing you can say about a unit designed to be transparent in use."
"For those requiring the highest quality analogue to digital conversion, the Benchmark unit delivers exactly what it says on the box."
"With an ADC16 converting your current into digits, you need to have no worries that you’re losing any important information along the way."
- Stephen Bennett, Audio Media
DAC1 HDR - "A rich feature set and top-quality sound"
"The DAC1 HDR carries on Benchmark’s tradition of approaching cost-no-object performance for a very reasonable price."
"For audiophiles who can live with only one analog input... the DAC1 HDR delivers a rich feature set and top-quality sound for much less than you’d spend on three separate components."
- Doug Schneider, SoundStage! Access
DAC1 HDR - "Damn close to a perfect piece of equipment"
"What the Benchmark DAC1 HDR adds to or subtracts from its input signal is borderline unmeasurable, so the sonic character of its output is obviously the sonic character of its input."
"All in all, the Benchmark DAC1 HDR is damn close to a perfect piece of equipment. Neither its digital performance nor its analog performance could be meaningfully improved. That’s really all that needs to be said."
"There exist DACs and preamps at ten times the price of the Benchmark, but they aren’t any better. Let the high-end police come and take me away in handcuffs."
- Peter Aczel, The Audio Critic
DAC1 HDR - "There’s a reason why so many pros use Benchmark"
"Through the USB and TOSLINK ports from my MacBook or the SPDIF input from the TASCAM HDP-2, all my recordings of acoustic guitar and jazz guitar cuts from my pro rig — sounded first rate."
"There’s a reason why so many pros use Benchmark D/As — accurate rendering of the digital PCM recordings with wide, deep and detailed imaging, and a total lack of harshness."
- John Gatski, Everything Audio Network"
ADC1 USB - "Every Benchmark converter PAR has ever measured has been clean as the digital whistle"
"Two years ago, I reviewed the Benchmark ADC1 A/D converter (PAR 12/05) and found it to be an excellent two-channel converter that could compete with even more highly priced converters. Now, the ADC1 has followed the course of its D/A brethren and has been upgraded to the ADC1 USB."
"You cannot review a Benchmark product without mentioning the UltraLock jitter-immune circuit, which is said to keep out the interface jitter and poor external clock performance from other sources. (Every Benchmark converter PAR has ever measured has been clean as the digital whistle.)"
"Benchmark’s ADC1 USB can be classified as accurate, with excellent imaging and bass control."
- John Gatski, Pro Audio Review
DAC1 - "A clean, lean digitizing machine"
"The DAC1 was created with three target users in mind: the professional studio, home use by audio professionals, and audiophiles. Indeed, the DAC1 has been well received by studios and has made inroads into the audiophile community. It is feature-laden and smartly laid out."
"It’s more than a DAC, it’s a pretty doggone good preamp too!"
"It presents hyper-nuanced, super clean sound."
"The Benchmark is a clean, lean digitizing machine. It does set the standard at its price point for pure, unadulterated digital signals coming to your nearest amp(s)."
"If you’re after the most measurably perfect CD sound and endless detail, put it on your own test bench – your audio rack."
- Doug Schroeder, dagogo
ADC1 - "Highly recommended for serious applications"
"The ADC1 is expensive in comparison to typical mid-market converters such as those from RME, Lynx and Apogee (the Apogee Rosetta 200 is similarly priced but includes a stereo D-A stage as well, for example). However, I feel justified in suggesting that the ADC1 performs at a significantly higher level and compares more naturally with serious high-end products from the likes of Lavry, Prism Sound and dCS. In that context, the ADC1 represents substantial value for money, giving only a little away in terms of ultimate resolution."
"The ADC1 is highly recommended for serious applications."
- Hugh Robjohns, Sound On Sound
"Many people I respect had lauded the DAC1, and I was interested to hear it in my home. Many reviews of the DAC1 had mentioned its headphone amplifier but had said little about it. Being an avid headphone listener, I wanted to see how well the DAC1 would stand up against my usual headphone amplifiers."
"Since then, months have passed during which I've used both the DAC1 and ADC1, and I can say with confidence that Benchmark’s reputation is well deserved. The three most important elements of any product -- build quality, sound quality, and customer support -- are all present in their designs."
"The ADC1 is the most powerful recording tool I've ever used, and is probably overkill for the casual recorder. But if you have a serious vinyl collection to archive, or are setting up a small digital recording studio, it should flawlessly perform to high standards."
"The DAC1 will have a wider audience and can serve many functions: headphone amp, digital preamp, and, of course, D/A processing."
- Eric Hetherington, GoodSound!
ADC1 - "I'VE BEEN CONVERTED"
"The Benchmark Media ADC1's superior down-conversion design — made possible in part by the latest chip technology, the unique UltraLock low-jitter clock, optimized analog input circuitry and the four multiformat digital outputs — makes it a worthy studio tool that will sound great for years to come."
"I highly recommend it as a way to instantly upgrade the recording quality of any studio."
- Barry Rudolph, Mix
ADC1 - "The sonic qualities are stunning"
"On original recordings of acoustic guitars, including a new Taylor concert-sized 712, the ADC1 transferred all the shimmer of the guitar and sound of the room space that could be heard during the performance, and there was no hint of harshness. The finger squeak decay from the guitar playing to the gradual fadeout of room reverb, this converter relayed all the information that was there. Stereo imaging at these high sampling rates is stunningly open. If you have the caliber of mics and preamps to make the best recordings, the ADC1 captures it in all its glory!"
"The Benchmark ADC1's sonic qualities are stunning; the converter has the ability to realistically reproduce all the fine inner detail and presence subtitles that only the best high-resolution converters can. Impressive. Put a set of these in your Pro Tools rig."
- John Gatski, Pro Audio Review